African girl treated in city for rare brainstem tumour

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Bengaluru: Ailing with a rare, complicated and potentially fatal brainstem glioma (a cancerous glioma tumour), an eight-year-old girl from Nigeria, Angel, has survived all odds and is leading a normal life a year after the surgery.

The girl was brought to Mazumdar Shaw Cancer Centre at Narayana Multi-Speciality Hospital after doctors in her country could not treat her. A month-long treatment brought her back to life.
In Angel’s case, the tumour was pressing against critical areas, that affected her balance and movement. The fatal disease had also left her nearly paralysed. Her parents brought her to Narayana Hrudayalaya in 2011.

“Angel’s survival is a miracle and has set a benchmark in paediatric oncology, as children with such tumours rarely survive beyond a year,” said Dr. Sandeep Jain, Consultant Radiation Oncologist, Mazumdar Shaw Cancer Centre, who treated Angel.

Seventy-five per cent of brainstem glioma cases are diagnosed among children and young adults under the age of 20. But it is also known to afflict adults. “Brainstem is a part of the brain connected to the spinal cord and controls breathing, heart rate, nerves and muscles used in seeing, hearing, walking, talking and eating.  A brainstem glioma is a cancerous glioma tumour in the brainstem. Most paediatric brain tumors are radiosensitive. Angel’s case was difficult as the tumour was pressing against critical areas,” Dr Jain said.

She was administered radiotherapy, Intensity Modulated Radio Surgery (IMRS) and radiotherapy (SRT) and was under treatment for 33 days. “With the new technology and precision, we can confidently target a very large and irregular brain tumour and treat such young children confidently, which was not possible a decade ago. In Angel’s, two years after radiotherapy, we have observed a decrease in the size of the tumor which has eased pressure on her brainstem,” he said.

Angel’s mother Roberta said, “When we came to Mazumdar Shaw Cancer Centre I was not very optimistic about my daughter’s survival. My girl could not walk without support and doctors in Nigeria said they had only rarely seen children with the tumour surviving beyond a year. I am glad that my child can not only walk but is also progressively resuming normal life.”

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